I am so very humbled and excited to write to you today about the experience I’ve had the last few weeks as Eric and I completed our survey mission to the nation of Israel. It has been very adventurous to say the least.
For those that don’t know, Eric Ream is one of Heart of God’s missionaries to Haiti, and is also related to one of Christianity’s great archaeologists, Dr. Randall Price. Through various contacts available to us through HGIM and Dr. Price, we were able to do more in a short time than would normally be possible.
We bagan our journey by meeting in Toronto, Canada only to be told that all flights going to Israel were being cancelled. They put us in a hotel, and the next day said it would be possible to re-route us through Zürich, Switzerland. After 20 hours there, we found out this flight was cancelled as well, and we were again put into a hotel. After almost attempting to put us on a flight through Turkey (not a good idea) they finally put us on standby for a flight the next morning.
My first experience in Israel was a two-hour security check due to my beard which apparently Muslims also find quite popular. Their concerns were heightened by the South Sudan stamps in my passport.
Following the security check, the next few days were quite a learning experience as we explored the ins and outs of Christian ministry in the world’s only Jewish nation. We met with believers and heard testimonies of their experiences as missionaries or immigrants to the Land, and visited many great works being used to reach and disciple God’s first “chosen people.”
The biggest ministry we visited took 3 days to see everything in. Aviv ministers to the drug addicts hidden on the back streets of major cities in Israel. With two other ministry partners, Aviv runs a soup kitchen in the red light district of Tel Aviv, where the Gospel is preached every day of the week. They also run a drug rehab program in Ber Sheva and partner with another called Bethel in Haifa. The most impressive thing about this ministry is that it is whole-life discipleship based, rather than a 12-step type program. After all of our appointments were met, Eric and I had 3 days left to see the sights. Due to the fighting going on, however, tourism is down in Israel which meant we were able to see double the normal amount in such a short time.
My number one priority was to see Capernaum, the ministry base for Jesus and His disciples. For me, this was the most moving experience as we stood inside the catholic church, built on a raised foundation above a 5th century church, which itself was built on top of a 2nd century prayer house, believed then to be built on the location of Peter’s house where Jesus stayed.
We also saw a 2000 year old boat dug up from the Sea of Galilee, we spied over the fence of Kursi, where the demons were cast into the swine. We traveled South and saw the caves and excavation at Qumran, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found, and hiked into the En Gedi where David hid from King Saul in the wilderness.
We also spent time in the Old City of Jerusalem, learning the history of the Land in the City of David as we saw the remains of David’s Palace and walked through Hezekiah’s underground water tunnel to the Pool of Siloam. We also visited the Temple Mount and Wailing Wall, and learned of future plans for the location at the Temple Institute.
Overall, this trip was very humbling, encouraging, and surreal. It is my prayer that God will allow partnerships to form or be strengthened and that we can begin more impactful ministry to the Jewish people through Heart of God Israel.
“I have but one candle of life to burn, and I would rather burn it out in a land filled withdarkness than in a land flooded with light” -John Keith Falconer